Interesting stuff club
Our monthly roundup of anything we’re doing and learning in our own time.
“I recently found some interesting command line tools, which you can install through `apt-get` or `brew`:
- Fortune – gives you a random quote. For example: “Know what I hate most? Rhetorical questions.”- Henry N. Camp
- Rig – prints some fake details, ideal for entering into online marketing forms.
- Lolcat – like the `cat` command, except in rainbow colours.
- Cowsay – prints an ascii cow, with a speech bubble containing the text you provide. You can also do `cowsay -f dragon` to make it print an ascii dragon instead of a cow.
- Thefuck – when you misspell a console command, just type `fuck` and it’ll try to correct the typo and re-run the command.”
“More of the same from me: I’ve been refining my hand lettering and have so far used it to make a card to ask my friends if they’ll be my bridesmaid, and then I also created a monogram logo for a friend who’s just set up as a make-up artist.”
“I was lucky enough to spend a weekend away this month visiting sunny Barcelona. My girlfriend and I did a tour of La Sagrada Familia Cathedral which was both fantastic and surreal in equal measures. What made it surreal was the fact that cathedrals tend to be older buildings, so it was strange to see a building with so much importance and history in such a new condition. The other interesting thing about La Sagrada Familia is that, as it’s taken so long to build, a number of sculptors and artists have worked on the facades – each bringing there own interpretations of Gaudí’s vision to the building. Although it sounds like it might compromise the overall aesthetics of the building, it actually adds character to the stories that each sculpture portrays. I’d highly recommend the audio tour, it’s short and sweet and it talks you through the different artists that have worked together to make Antoni Gaudí’s vision a reality.”
Catching up on some talks from Render Conf earlier this month, a talk from Umar Hansa on “A Modern Front-End Workflow” caught my attention. As web development gets increasingly complicated and competitive knowing your tools can give a big advantage.
This talk gives a good overview of new and existing features in Chrome Developer tools. More significantly however I’ve signed up for Uma’s Modern Dev Tools video course to level up my skills, with a view to run an internal workshop in the coming months.
“In 1989 links existed only within the CD-ROM so thinking that a link could take you anywhere in the world was far fetched. The internet as we know it today didn’t exist: emails existed but not much else. There was no universal way for computers to access information on other computers.
Tim Berners-Lee – inventor of the World Wide Web (WWW). Many of you may not know this but before the WWW took off there was another application gaining popularity called Gopher. Developed by the University of Minnesota, Gopher was a campus-wide information system where you’d go through the hierarchy of menus with increasing levels of specificity until you reached the information that interested you. Gopher was actually taking off faster than the WWW until the University of Minnesota decided to make Gopher a paid service, which resulted in decreasing traffic. Not long after that, Cern made WWW open for anyone to use and it’s because of this decision that the internet has become what it is today. We have a term for this idea: “Open source”.
But actually, the idea behind open source didn’t start with technology, it’s been around for decades. In the 16th century here in England group of natural philosophers wanted to improve the way they discussed their findings with each other. They needed to quickly synchronise what other philosophers knew to get the right kind of arguments, so they created a scientific journal. This was a kind of open source magazine where these philosophers would publish not only their claims but how they did it. So this is where open sourcing began.”
“I was listening to a Radio 4 programme, one of a series called ‘Owning Colour’ by Wayne Hemingway. The programme itself focussed on black and in particular, the current blackest black created called ‘Vanta Black’ which, through it’s design of tiny carbon nanotubes only allows 0.04% of light to escape (for the nerds, the rest of the light is converted into heat energy – which is why black surfaces often feel warm).
All very interesting but that’s not really why I thought I’d talk about it. The interesting thing to me was about what happened after the colour was invested and the ownership of that colour. Because of its almost pure blackness, many artists were interested in using it in their art. So the creator, and owner of the IP for creating it, sold exclusive rights to Anish Kapoor. At the time, the art community were quite excited because they thought he would use it to create art which we could also see. But instead of doing that, Anish designed a watch which cost £100,000. The art community was dismayed by this commercialism and the fact no-one – other than a few rich people – would be able to see Vanta Black in action.
An artist called Stuart Semple then decided to make a statement by licensing a pink he’d created called ‘world’s pinkest pink’. The licence allowed anyone in the world to use the colour EXCEPT for Anish Kapoor (you had to agree to terms stating that you were not Anish Kapoor). But despite this, Anish managed to get hold of it and posted a picture of him giving the finger. At first, Stuart Semple said he felt complimented by this because of Anish’s status in the industry but there was a massive backlash in the art community with many outraged by the offence and the pure commercialism of Anish. Something which doesn’t sit that well with a lot of the art community.”